Ahmedabad: Gujarat’s hardline Chief Minister Narendra Modi seems all set to make a hat-trick even as the state witnessed a record 70% turnout in the second phase of polling on Monday.
Major exit polls have predicted a landslide for Narendra Modi-led BJP in the two-phased assembly elections, a possibility that may have ramifications for national politics.
Although the official results will be declared on December 20, all exit polls said that Modi will improve his 2007 tally and the Congress would be staring down the barrel.
The Ananda Bazar Patrika-AC Nielsen survey gave 116 of the total 182 seats to the BJP. The Congress was placed a distant second with 60 seats.
C voters (Centre for Voting Opinion and Trends in Election Research) agency said Modi could bag up to 124 seats. It put 54 seats in the Congress kitty.
The News 24 Today Chanakya poll predicted a much higher 140 seats for the BJP and 40 to the Congress.
Similarly, a Headlines Today-ORG survey indicated that the ruling BJP would again sweep the state with its final tally likely to be between 118 and 128 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly.
The post-poll survey conducted by CSDS for CNN-IBN and The Week shows that Modi`s leadership is once again set to trounce the Congress.
The survey is restricted to just the first phase of polling which took place on December 13 in 87 seats out of the 182.
The seat projection shows that BJP is far ahead with 53-63 seats (the party had won 117 in 2007). The Congress will trail far behind with only 19-27 seats (the party had won 59 in 2007) with other smaller parties are likely to win three to nine seats (others had won six seats which included three by the NCP, one by the JD(U) and two Independents on 2007).
A supremely confident Modi, who has ruled Gujarat since 2001, gave a broad smile and flashed a V-sign with both hands after casting his ballot in his constituency Maninagar.
"The people of Gujarat will vote the BJP to power for a third consecutive term," he told the media triumphantly.
The Election Commission put today`s voting percentage in 95 constituencies at 70.2 percent -- higher than the 64.39 percent recorded in 1995. Gujarat has 37.8 million voters.
The first round of polling in 87 constituencies Dec 13 also drew 70.75 percentage of the voters.
BJP`s Rajya Sabha MP Parshottam Rupala told reporters, “We will win, and we will better our record of 2007." Five years ago, the BJP bagged 117 seats while the Congress got 59.
His colleague Smriti Irani called the heavy polling "a victory for development" and warned that the expected Congress rout would be a defeat for "dynastic politics".
Actor-politician Irani was referring to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul who spearheaded their party`s election campaign, repeatedly targeting Modi on a variety of counts.
Congress leader Girija Vyas, however, asserted that Modi would lose this time. "People have voted in large numbers and they have voted for change. We are sure the Congress will win."
Political pundits, however, seemed to agree broadly with exit poll predictions that Modi was set to get another five years -- a result which could cast a shadow on national politics ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha battle.
Pollster GVL Narasimha Rao was quoted as telling Times Now television channel that he expected a Modi wave.
In an undisguised comment on the Congress, political analyst Yogendra Yadav said the BJP was set to win due to "TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor".
Today’s polling -- like the first round -- was mostly peaceful, with millions of men and women thronging 23,318 polling centres in Kutch, north Gujarat and central Gujarat regions.
Narmada district recorded the highest voting -- 82.17 percent.
The BJP contested all 182 seats. Both exit polls and pundits appeared to agree that former BJP chief minister Keshubhai Patel`s Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) had not hurt the BJP as feared.
The Election Commission said 5,573 of the voters, who cast their votes in the second phase, were over 100 years old.
With Agency Inputs